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Between the Traditional and Modern Almajiri in Northern Nigeria

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Between the traditional and modern almajiri in northern Nigeria

By: Yusuf Adamu

The Almajiri system has been in practice since time immemorial in northern Nigeria. People from the northwest and north central travelled hundreds of kilometres to fine Islamic education for their children in the far northeast, and Borno state happens to be the centre for Islamic studies. At that time, the Almajiri (a person seeking knowledge) is seen and respected as one chosen divinely to study and keep certain religious tradition  teaching.

Traditionally, the almajiri is not a street beggar, a homeless person or persons with questionable character as seen in today’s system. Perhaps politics in northern Nigeria has changed a lot of things in the way and manner the almajiri is perceived. Certainly there are changes in the way and manner the modern almajiri is seen differently from those we used to know while growing up as children in Kaduna in the 60s.

From what I can recall, the people from Borno have been practicing what we called the Madrasa, where people from far and near brings their wards to learn and study the Holy Quran in the most dignifying way. People from Kano, Katsina, and as far as Sokoto brings their children to a teacher or Malam and it must be a person they know and have certain association with. They hand over children to them so that these teachers will teach these children the way of Islam through the study of the Quran. These Children like any other child lives a descent life and practice what they are being taught. They do not roam the street or engage in an unholy way. But they are always around their Madrasatu unless engaged in some labour to keep the learning rolling.

Of course! These children also work for their livelihoods through farming. They are usually engaged in farming for their teachers. This is also where they feed. Their movements and activities are being monitored and controlled by their teachers and at the end of their studies they go back to their various states to become useful to their families, immediate environments and states from which they came.

A lot of leaders from Kano, Katsina, Sokoto and the rest of the north, who are  important personalities in Nigeria today, have gone through the Madrasatu system. Some of them are big politician, business men and respected Quranic teachers or Ulamas. We have a lot of them in country, and others are making waves in Niger, Chad, Cameroon and the central African republic.

In the 60s, while growing up, for those who are in Maiduguri or rather when you visited Borno, there is this Islamic family system in place, which you would notice, a situation whereby food cooked in various houses are brought out and people eat in group to show love and brotherliness without regards to who is eating the food so long as you are hungry and come to eat food – you are always welcomed. Today, that system is gone – a history and story only being told to children like the almajiri system of those days.

My elder brother was taken to Maiduguri and subsequently move to the village from Kaduna to go and learn as well as study the Quran. He was never said to be roaming streets or begging for food to eat or doing other uncalled assignment or duties but devotion to the calling and the will of Allah upon his life as almajiri who is studying the Quran in a traditionally, acceptable and respected way.

The situation today with the almajiri system or what we called the modern day almajiri system is pathetic and calls for concern. Everything has changed, everything keeps deteriorating by the day. The situation is getting alarming with constant claims and counter claims on the system of almajiri education in the north. Recently, issues with Covid-19 and the almajiri child calls for serious concern on national debat. The question remains, what is the future of the almajiri child in modern day Nigeria? The government has to come in and intervene, however, this most not also create or add burden to state governments who are already burden with a lot of problems with very little resources to take care of the needs.

This is the time, the federal government comes up with special interventions not only for the almajiri child but also for other children facing the same fate like the almajiri child in other parts or the country. A special project to fund the system in the north as well as look at other problems facing other part of the country and have their own checks to strike a balance. There is need to create special fund from the federal account to coordinate and control the almajiri school. This must be done under the supervision of the state government and I believe with states like Borno and the demonstrative act of governance shown by the present administrator more would be achieved.

In the north, the state governments can also contribute to the almajiri school by providing land for this and other purposes. Also, a study of how other countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan and India are doing in their own country where Madrasatu system is still in existence.

The University of Madina is an Islamic school where people go to learn or study the Quran. People should be able to see the difference between Islamic studies and the almajiri system of education and also distinguish between traditional almajirai we know and the modern day almajirai that are associated with evil vises in the northern Nigeria.

* Yusuf Adamu is the former political adviser to ex-Borno state governor, Kashim Shettima

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Opinion

APC: The hurdles before Gov. Mai Mala Buni

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APC : The hurdles before Gov. Mai Mala Buni 

By Haruna Yusuf Abuja


His excellency, Mai Mala Buni the executive Governor of Yobe state, came to Apc limelight at the epic of ravaging crisis that made president Muhammadu Buhari move against oshiomhole to save the party from the verge of disintegration. When NEC immediately dissolved NWC and sworn in Gov. Buni as the caretaker/convention committee chairman to reconcile all the aggrieved members and bring back sanity to the party. 
Gov. Buni’s journey through reconciling aggrieved members, revamping and bringing sanity back to APC is commendable. Though there are groups or individuals breeding hostile propaganda and trying to discredit the led committee of Buni.  One thing is certain, Mai Mala Buni is known by majority as the architect of the process of change that “houses the essence of hope” to all and sundry. And he was also among the APC generals in the common sense revolution Army that brought APC to power in 2015 general elections and remained thorn in the flesh of the powerful opposition.                     Why he was chosen to chair as the caretaker/convention and reconciliation committee in the epic crisis was his astuteness and all-inclusive service delivery mandate in achieving results silently (obviously) he delivers without fuss, solve problems and deliver solutions too,  he is innovative and above all, inspire people.
Buni is known as Mr Fixer and they’re not common, every nation or society boasts only a handful of them, they have become even more harder to find this days, when the common measure for “strong” is how loud and for weak is how quite, his achievements have been loud from days memorial as a grassroot and dogged politicians with the interest of people first above every other interest. 
His excellency, Mai Mala Buni the executive Governor of Yobe state and Chairman APC is bold, Courageous and always ahead of his political rivals and ever willing to show the world what he has achieved in the task to chat the critical path to total political emancipation of the people. There is, therefore,  “another great  opportunity to salute his rare courage of conviction and sense of purpose” since his assumption of office as the Apc chairman caretaker/convention and reconciliation committee on 26 June 2020 is a timely service to APC history.
There are straight opinions about the performance of the APC chairman caretaker/convention and reconciliation committee in the past 4 months of appointment, though majority over scored him, while some applaud his astuteness and all-inclusive style of leadership in carrying everyone along irrespective of region or status. 
This past week meetings with 36 states party chairmen and FCT is a further testimony to the fact that Buni’s chaired reconciliation committee take cognizance of his members and flat playing ground for everyone, in the decision making and taking the party to the level of the progressives. A party that is run with the understanding and inputs of it members. A practical expression of the beauty of leadership and transparency, which he sworn to defend revive bring back lost sanity and uphold at all times.

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Sheikh, Dr. Ahmad Abulfathai El-Miskin’s Biography and Journey through Qur’anic/Western Education, Amidst Philanthropic legacy

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Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Abulfathai El-Miskin’s Biography and Journey through Qur’anic/Western Education, Amidst philanthropic legacy 
By Haruna Yusuf 

Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Abulfathai El-Miskin is the Son of the late prominent scholar/cleric Sheikh Abubakar El-Miskin. Abulfathai was Born in the year 1970 in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital. At the age of 3 he began the Journey of his Qur’anic Education, under the supervision of Mallam Goni Bukar kuru, between 1973/1980 when he was able to recite 2 verses (hizu) of the Holy Quran. He was later transfered to Mallam Dan Kelluri’s Sangaya (Boarding school) and between 1980/1988 he was able to complete his Qur’anic education and memorised it. 
After completing his Qur’anic education, he was sent back to his Namesake the popular Sheikh Abulfathai to get the knowledge of Tafsir (Qur’an  Translation) in Hausa the common and most spoken Nigeria language among others. Books written by great Islamic scholars for more enlightenment, from the period from 1990/1997. He was able to gain the knowledge of translating the same Tafsir(Qur’an translation) From Hausa to Kanuri the Kanem Borno language of all times. The Books that helps him understand translations properly was gotten from his late Father Sheikh Abubakar El-Miskin and Sheikh Sheriff Tijjani from 1998/1999.
Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Abulfathai El-Miskin began his western education and exploration in the year 2000 when he enrolled into high Islamic college and completed in 2002  and got his secondary certificate and forged ahead to obtain his National Diploma certificate in Islamic studies in 2002/2005 and continued with his Degree programmes in Islamic studies in University of Maiduguri from 2006/2010. He went ahead to obtain his Master Degree in the same university of Maiduguri from 2012/2014. The sheikh never rest his hoax in obtaining his Doctorate Degree (PhD) Dr. From university of Cotonou in 2015/2016 maintaining the same Islamic studies throughout his educational Journey and that’s why he is one of the best.
Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Abulfathai El-Miskin is a renowned scholar, preacher and a philanthropist an astute manager of people irrespective of status or political affiliation, easy to access and broadminded, listening ears and full with wisdom. He always extend his benevolent hands towards the needy and vulnerable across not minding and contributing Immensely to the environment and state at large. 
He is the chairman of Tijjaniya youth enlightenment initiative of Borno state chapter, and he is also one among the 10(Ten) Members of the board of trustee of Tijjaniya in Nigeria. 
What makes Borno aka Kanem Borno empire special?  Kanem Borno is powerful, advanced and extremely wealthy, it has strong military and some brilliant officials and youths and massive territorial and commercial empire. Moreover, people in the empire have a keen sense of history, as shown by their decision to record the reigns of their kings. The introduction of writing reinforced thus cultural sophistication, Kanem Borno must rank among the great African empires of the second millennium.
Why Borno have the best Islamic scholars and the origin and development of Kanem Borno
The empires roots lies in the state of kanem, which  was created in the eight century between lake chad and the Bar el-Ghazal in the region of kanem in the modern – day chad. This state then conquered land in the north, enabling the creation of a Trans-Saharan empire. It was a major regional power, with embassies in Morocco and Othman empire in Tripoli, in the fourteenth century, the centre of the empire moved away from kanem to Borno when kanem was captured by the empire’s enemies, although kanem was retaken in the sixteenth century, the imperial capital remained in Borno. This is why it is called Kanem-Borno.
Religion; Islam and Traditional Beliefs 
Since the eleventh century, the ruler of kanem Borno had being Muslim, the empire became famous for its Mosques (Masjids) and the pilgrimages to Mecca made by its leaders, since the fifteenth century, the emperor called himself (Caliph) meaning the ruler of all Muslims, but despite this, traditional religion persisted for a longtime. For example, a sacred Pre-islamic object called the “Mune” was honored until the thirteenth century, we should think religion in the empire as a mix of Islamic and traditional elements.
Writing and Recording History.
The rulers of kanem Borno were very good at recording their history, since the ninth century, the names and ancestry of the kings of Kanem were recorded orally. The introduction of Islam and Arabic writing meant that things went a step further, with the beginning of a written record. A chronicle of kings, the (Diwan) or (Girgam) was written from the sixteenth or perhaps the thirteenth century until the nineteenth. This is a very important source for historians, both because it covers such a large period of time and because other written records are rare. Therefore, the Diwan/Girgam shows how advanced the kanem Borno Empire was by the standard of its time. 

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Opinion

Nigeria, 60 years after independence, still toddling

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Nigeria, 60 years after independence, still toddling

By Haruna Yusuf 

Today marks 60 years of independence from British colonial rule. Nigeria gained her independence on 1st October 1960. Nigeria is among the 17 African countries who seek liberation and got their independence, as Ghana got hers in1957, 3 years before Nigeria. 


Nigeria is among the largest, if not the largest country in Africa with the population of about 180million people with different cultural backgrounds, heritages and believes. Nigeria with it’s diversify, abundant natural and human resources, yet rated the third country with the most poorest individuals as citizens.  

Nigeria’s recent history has been a mixed picture of partial progress and woeful setbacks, marked by democratic stability, economic woes, corruption and pocket of progress amid development, education and damning health challenges among others.

Nigeria as a country and Nigerians as citizens narrowly escaped from colonial dominations and slavery only to enter into a new and premeditated covert era of resources exploitation and subjection. 


Nigeria with all modesty witnessed a peaceful transfer of power in its recent elections, in which President Muhammdu Buhari the incumbent defeated Good luck Ebele Jonathan in a tight presidential race in 2015. 
Good luck Jonathan faced tribulations from the present ruling all progressive congress (APC) which was the powerful opposition, accusation of financial mismanagement, abuse of political power, lack of will to settle the issues of insecurity, health, power and unemployment among other issues that was holding Nigeria to ransom, but now, reverse is the case. 


Nigeria was one of Africa’s giant and most dynamic economics for many years after independence during the military era of Yakubu Gowon, Nigeria was the largest coco export in Africa. But six decades on, Nigeria is mired in problems, still struggling to build an economic model that encourages enduring growth, addresses poverty and provides a future for its youth.
Youth “explosion” the most dangerous and consuming factor facing [email protected] the moment. ” The most striking change for me, is the increasing reality of disaffected youth- a younger population that is ready to explode at any slightest opportunity. They’re hungry for political emancipation of freedoms, they’re hungry for economic opportunities and they’re hungry for social fulfilment.


Joblessness is a major  peril, unemployed youths are the easiest prey for armed groups, especially the decade nightmare engulfing the peace and stability of Nigeria especially in the northeast (Boko Haram) Northwest/ central the kidnappers and armed bandits while the south/east the rising cultism, ritualist and rape among others. The Jihadi movements in the sahel became a stumbling block for development and dividend of democracy. This may always be tempted to risk clandestine emigration, often at the cost of their dare lives. 


Poverty, injustice and inequality is the greatest factor crippling the peace and stability of Nigeria. A country bound by a repugnance and remorseful constitution that seems applicable to only the vulnerable and irrelevant in the society. A country so blinded by hate and cumulating sentimentalists, a country where “everyone else” is a hypocrite in his/her own way. A country with so many educated illiterates and maybe a country with many delusional and deranged ideologist.


If and only, we can trace and see in the realm of Nigeria, not through but above our noses how blessed this country is, both in human and natural resources, then and there,we’ll have embraced nature and make a better part out of our miserable life.


The bleak future and clouded uncertainties we found ourselves in, is a manmade and calculated proportion that could’ve been averted if we ever had wished to be contained, but we are blinded by hatred for one another and tied to sentiment and inflicted by our delusional ideologies of divide and rule instead of oneness and coexistence.


It is a pity to say, but it’s quite unfortunate in a normal view that politics is unrelated to our every day life, the country of Nigeria has three embodied arms of Government that the average person knows nothing about and should’ve a problem with, especially when it comes to the political publicity and awareness. The undiluted truth about Nigeria political system isn’t always about the people that it suppose to be as constituted in democracy nor the Government that supposed to be for the people, by and with the people. But ultimate “power” to extort and subject the same people tribulation. 


Corruption is a monster that has brought about catastrophic setbacks and maiming of millions of vulnerable Nigerians from independence to military dictatorship to this acclaimed present day democrazy. 


Nigeria has not recovered from the diabolic thievery of Abatcha and his acolytes, thousands have died perhaps more than in a holocaust, thousands are still dying due to our potholes on the roads, insecurity, lack of portable drinking water, medical healthcare facilities among others.


Corruption in Nigeria is more of malicious than civil war, communal clashes and Boko haram combined. Our politicians always have their ways through the maze by bribing and buying the conscience of the electorates. 


Democracy and Nigeria are like Siamese twins, through conjoined very maneuvering, they are uncomfortable and under intense pressure that could result in all forms of hurt, even death, although, democracy may not be strange to an overwhelming percentage of Nigerians, what may be strange to them is the brand of democracy that invests, first and foremost in human and material resources for purposes of political stability, economic viability, scientific advancement, technical breakthrough, educational development and life-enhancing social services, given the general optimism that Nigeria was going to be the  bastion of democracy in Africa.
A lot has to be done and some has to be let go, before we can come out of the spirit of crippling and stagnating bondages.   

A piece by Haruna Yusuf the publisher of Daily Hint Newspapers 

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